The calendar says late June. For Mike Clevinger, it’s still early March.
Admittedly rusty and out of synch, Clevinger struggled in his return from the injured list Friday night and made an early exit in the Cleveland Indians’ 13-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles
Chance Sisco homered and had a career-high five RBIs for the Orioles, who built an 8-0 lead in the second inning and cruised to only their second win in 15 games. It was the most runs scored by Baltimore this season and its most lopsided shutout win since Aug. 13, 2006, a 15-0 win over Toronto.
“We have not had many of these,” Orioles first-year manager Brandon Hyde said. “We were definitely due for one.”
With a victory on Saturday, struggling Baltimore will have its first winning streak since May 4-6 and capture its first series since April 22-24.
.After notching a total of 25 wins over the past two seasons, Clevinger (1-2) was making his fourth start this year following two separate stints on the injured list with back and ankle problems. This appeared to be the perfect scenario for his return, given the plight of the Orioles and Clevinger’s 4-0 career record against them.
The right-hander couldn’t get past the second inning. He managed to get five outs around allowing seven runs, five hits and three walks.
“It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t easy,” Clevinger said. “It’s kind of like spring training. I’m throwing some pitches that are coming out good, they’re spinning good, but they’re not going exactly where I want it to. It’s just a matter of getting back and getting the reps.”
After walking the first batter he faced, Clevinger got two outs before Sisco hit a fastball far over the right-field wall — the 99th homer to reach Eutaw Street in the 27-year history of Camden Yards. Two walks and a two-run double by Hanser Alberto followed.
Clevinger gave up three more hits before being pulled in the second inning, and Anthony Santander greeted Tyler Olson with a two-run homer .
“It’s been 2 1/2 months off, and I’m going against guys who have been in the flow of the game,” Clevinger lamented. “It’s a lot to pick up. I’ve got to figure it out myself.”
Manager Terry Francona won’t lose patience waiting for it to happen.
“The good side of it is he looked extremely healthy,” Francona said. “With repetition, with side days, with work in between, he’ll be fine.”
Like Clevenger, Baltimore starter John Means (7-4) was activated from the injured list (shoulder) to pitch in this game. Means, however, was far more successful : The lefty allowed one hit and one walk with five strikeouts in five innings.
“Actually I felt a lot better than I thought,” he said.
Pitched pretty well, too.
“John Means was fantastic,” Hyde said.
After getting 10 wins in 13 games, the Indians managed only five hits in their sixth shutout loss of the season. Their most notable play came on defense, when center fielder Oscar Mercado made a leaping catch in the fourth inning to rob Sisco of a second home run.
Sisco rebounded to hit a two-run double during a four-run eighth.
Yu Chang became the second Taiwanese-born player in Indians history, starting at third base and going 0 for 3 in his major league debut after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus. Summoned from the minors Friday after José Ramírez went on paternity leave, Chang became the 16th player in big league history born in Taiwan. The 23-year-old batted .151 before going on the injured list with a knuckle injury from April 17-June 17 and returned to hit .320 in six games. “They say he’s really looked like a different player, kind of like Chang, instead of Chang with a bad finger,” Francona said.
Ramírez will be gone “two or three days,” according to Francona. In addition to recalling Chang and activating Clevinger, Cleveland optioned RHP Jon Edwards to Columbus.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (broken arm) is finally playing catch after going on injured list on May 3. “He’s basically got to start over again, his throwing program,” Francona said. “But the fact that he’s throwing, the fact that it’s healing so well, it’s really good news.”
Orioles: OF DJ Stewart (ankle) is playing in the Gulf Coast League and will soon be ready to continue his rehab in the minors, Hyde said.
Indians: Zach Plesac (3-2, 2.33 ERA) faces the Orioles on Saturday after limiting Detroit to one run over seven innings on Sunday.
Orioles: Andrew Cashner (7-3, 4.37) tries again to beat the Indians. In three career starts against Cleveland, the right-hander is 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA.
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